Ahmad Bradshaw worked out for the Indianapolis Colts last week and then waited.
And he prayed.
The running back desperately wanted a chance to return to the Colts, where he had played 13 games the past two seasons before injuries landed him on injured reserve each year. The ninth-year pro had his prayers answered and his smile in the locker room Thursday spoke volumes.
“It feels great," he said. "This is family to me. I’m just happy to be here and blessed.”
He later added, “I never give up faith. I kept my faith the whole time. Like I said, I’ve been dreaming about being here. Like I said, the blessings came true.”
A two-time Super Bowl winner with the New York Giants, the 29-year-old back will back up Frank Gore, his offseason workout partner.
“We’ve been training together in Miami," Bradshaw said. "I’ve been training there for five years, and we have the same trainer there. Like I said, we talked about this situation early in the year when they decided to pick him up here. Like I said, the blessings came true. We’ve been hoping for this.”
Bradshaw's productivity when healthy isn't in question. In 10 games last season, he led the Colts with a 4.7-yard rushing average and was tops in the league with six touchdown receptions. He also scored twice on the ground.
But 2014 ended early with a fractured fibula against the New England Patriots. He's played a full 16 games only once in his career. In 2013, his first stint with the Colts ended after three games due to a neck injury that required surgery.
While Gore is counted upon the carry much of the load, Bradshaw can be more than just a capable backup given his experience. In addition to his offensive production, he's a tenacious blocker. The only question will be about his health, but he's not going to change how he plays the game.
"I’ve gotten injured the last couple of years," he said. "That’s just a thing with me, I guess. I play the game like I play it, and I won’t stop now.”
As fate would have it, his first game back is against the Patriots. Bradshaw is confident he can step right in and do whatever is asked because he's familiar with the playbook.
“I think it helps," he said. "I know all the plays. I think they just want to make sure my legs are up under me. Like I said, it’s their decision. I’ll be ready to go if they call my number.”
The Colts (3-2) have won three in a row entering their Sunday night test against the defending Super Bowl champions (4-0).
Bradshaw, who wasn't re-signed after last season, said the hardest part of waiting was watching the Colts, his "brothers," play without him.
"As I told the coaches before, I’ve been playing in the NFL for going on nine years. I’ll be ready when my number is called,” he said.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.